Methods of Data Collection

Online

Online research can be used for qualitative and quantitative research projects.  It is less useful when a client needs to sample older age groups or countries where Internet penetration is less widespread.  Using online research panels, where respondents have pre-agreed to participate in surveys, is very cost effective and produces well-balanced and reliable consumer and business samples.  Online consumer omnibus surveys, where the survey takes place regularly and clients pay per question, are also a very cost-effective means of sampling, producing nationally representative samples.  Alternatively, clients may want to use online research among their existing customers or employees.

Telephone

Telephone research is especially useful when sampling niche groups of consumer or business respondents, or those with limited Internet access.

It is also useful for qualitative research where the researcher essentially needs to have a semi-structured conversation with respondents to probe to greater depths of understanding.

Telephone surveys are also necessary when asking consumers about Internet-related issues, as online techniques will produce unreliable and biased results.

Face-to-Face

This technique is useful when respondents need to be shown material.  The research can take place in a variety of different ways, including via an omnibus survey, focus groups, hall tests, or for high-level 1:1 business interviews.

Focus groups are particularly useful for creative development of ideas, as respondents tend to spark off each other, but less useful for probing an individual’s motivations, due to the inevitable group dynamics.